In 1929 the CNR established a gravel pit on this site to serve ongoing
maintenance needs of its operations. At one time, an average of sixty
carloads of ballast material were being taken from the site daily,
resulting in a transformed landscape.
It has now been transformed anew as Millennial Park
Thus it connects us to our Railway Heritage. As we wind our way
along the trail and by the Rivers Wetlands Centre of Excellence to the
Lake we will learn about the other elements of our heritage.
The Birth of a Town
The story begins with the railway.
At the beginning of the twentieth century The Grand Trunk Railway was a
well-established successful company. It had completed a line between
Montréal and Toronto in 1856, then expanded rapidly through takeovers
and new construction. By the 1880s it had lines from Chicago to the
Atlantic coast, and ranked among the largest railway systems in the
New York Times, Dec. 7, 1902
At that time approached railway operations in western Canada were under
the control of the Canadian Pacific, which in 1885 had completed its
cross-country line, and by the Canadian Northern.
In 1903 the Grand Trunk established a subsidiary, the Grand Trunk
Pacific Railway, to build a line from Winnipeg to the Pacific. Under
Charles M. Hays, the Grand Trunk's energetic general manager the new
company pushed its line west.
In 1907 the Grand Trunk Pacific entered the municipality from the
east. A spot just west of the crossing of the Little Saskatchewan
River was just the right distance from Winnipeg to be designated as a
divisional point. It would require a large station, a roundhouse and a
host of storage, maintenance and housing facilities. Thus a substantial
town was born, named Rivers, after Sir Charles Rivers Wilson, the Grand
By 1925 The Grand Trunk had been absorbed by the Canadian national
Railway and was part of an extensive network which connected Rivers to
all parts of Canada and beyond.